I haven't been on here in a long time & thought I would post an update to give hope to those who have problems after an ACDF. I am now just over 6 months post op & am finally STARTING to get back to normal.
For those who don't know my story, I will give a brief history to add to what is in my signature. I initially had a great recovery after my surgery. My pain had never been disabling pre op & my surgery was mostly done to prevent further damage & paralysis. I went back to work at 8 weeks & had a huge setback. My pain was worse than it ever had been & the numbness in my extremities returned. I had to go on medical leave again for another 2 months & returned to work for the second time in late July even though I was still having quite a bit of pain. My boss was facing the possibility of having to replace me & even though I could get another position with my employer, I loved my job & did not want to change.
Since a repeat MRI did not show anything conclusive, I was referred by my surgeon to a pain mgmt doc who scheduled me for cervical ESIs. I had 2 done a month apart with no relief. The injections themselves were done with sedation & were very easy. I had no complications, they just didn't work. I was getting a little depressed because I was having to take pain meds 2-3 times/day & they only took the edge off but because I am a nurse, I couldn't take anything stronger that would impair my ability to work. I was only working part time & our unit wasn't crazy busy but I would still be in tears driving home from work. My days off were spent lying on the couch to avoid making my pain worse. The pain mgmt doc said he would not do a third ESI since the first 2 did not help & he scheduled me for facet joint injections. Again, they were done under sedation. He did three levels (I think!) & the first 3-4 days I had no relief so I was getting discouraged again. After that I my pain started to improve. I had the injections last Tuesday & since Sat/Sun I am definitely doing better. I have had some pain & I think I have taken 2-3 pain pills since Saturday. Most of the time if I have some pain I try to relax for a few minutes & it gradually goes away. It is a HUGE improvement over the way I felt last week & I am very thankful.
Sorry for the long post but I wanted to share my story. I am very independent & really thought I might have been facing disability. I was very discouraged since my surgery went fine & I was fusing well but everything I did caused horrible pain. Even washing my hair brought on tears at times. I could only spend a few minutes at a time on a computer. The only thing that didn't cause me pain was lying down or standing with my head perfectly straight! There aren't a lot of jobs you can do with that!!! Anyway, I hope my sharing this will help give hope to those who do have a complicated recovery after a "successful" surgery. Don't give up...keep the faith & be open to any suggestions your docs can offer. I almost refused the facet joint injections cause I was tired of procedures & needles with no relief. I was almost resigned to a life of pills & a limited home life in order to keep working. I am so grateful for the prayers of my family, friends & coworkers & also for the docs & nurses who cared for me.
My thoughts & prayers go out to all my fellow spineys.